Breaking Bad

“Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”

Series creator Vince Gilligan, formerly of X-Files, said he wanted to create a show where Mr. Chips turned into Scarface. Breaking Bad is the story of a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, with a beaten down little life, a bad marriage, and a unfulfilling career gets a diagnosis of advanced stage lung cancer. Walter, played by Bryan Cranston of Malcolm In the Middle fame, is given 6 months to live and decides he needs to find some way to leave his family something for when he’s gone. A chance meeting with an old student of his, Jesse Pinkman, played brilliantly by Aaron Paul, while on a ride along DEA bust at a meth house. Walter approaches Jesse with an offer. Walter will cook the best meth anyone has ever seen and Jesse will take care of selling it. Walter calculates he needs 863,000 dollars before he dies so that his family will be taken care of.

The science, especially the chemistry, is first rate. Walter is a world class chemist who once worked at Los Alamos labs before his personality forced him to a lower path. During the course of the shows, he makes amazingly pure meth, but also makes thermite, chemical explosives, sarin poison and is generally an evil tempered MacGyver. If you’re a science geek, it’s great fun to watch Walter and Jesse perform mad science, a first season episode involving acid and a bathtub is especially gruesome and hysterical, and generally prosper because of their minds and not naked force. Even though they’re doing horrible things, it’s nice to see geeks get ahead for a change.

As the show progresses, we learn more about Walter’s background and his feelings that life has treated him badly and when his cancer goes into remission, Walters goals change from merely making enough money to leave his family when he dies to the desire to built a huge meth empire to prove to himself and others that his failures in life weren’t due to his deficiencies, but that he was actually a brilliant mastermind. By the end of the 4th season of the show, Walter is producing millions of dollars worth of meth every week and is supplying the addicts of a good part of the southwestern United States. He’s killed or ordered the murder of several people, not all of whom deserved it. The progression from milquetoast to monster never seems forced and the show never forces the viewer to completely turn on Walter. The acting is first rate. Bryan Cranston won the Emmy Award for best dramatic actor in each of the first 3 seasons, and is nominated for the 4rh season award. Aaron Paul won the award for best supporting actor for season 3 and is nominated, along with season 3’s antagonist Giancarlo Esposito, for season 4’s award. By the time Walter says the words at the beginning of this review, his transformation to Scarface is nearly complete.

The show plays on AMC television in the United States, and the first 4 seasons are available on Netflix and on BluRay. Season 5 just completed its first half and will resume in July of 2013 for the series conclusion. You have time to catch up on the first 4 seasons and strap in for the conclusion. It’s well worth the ride.

Article Submitted by: Justin Armstrong

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